Changin’ Bleedin’ History

It was an epic train journey across Canada and I had some malady that made me whoozy. Just re-reading “Are you there God, it’s me Margaret” by Judy Blume – one of my teenage favourites – was a struggle.

When I realised they changed the belts to pads I almost fell off that train – one of my strongest and most enjoyable memories of the book and they went and changed it like it was a tampon instruction manuel – I got a case of the changin’ history blues.

Here’s my article about why notes are good but re-writes are bad and here’s a picture of an old sanitary belt.

menstrual belt

Changin’ Bleedin’ History as it appeared on For Books’ Sake on 7 December 2012.

What might Dorothy Parker think of book bloggers?

Parker, Dorothy. (1970) “Literary Rotarians,” In, The Constant Reader. First published in The New Yorker on 11 February 1928.

Why Dorothy Parker and book bloggers?

Earlier in the month I was reading an article on The Guardian about the value (or not) of Book Bloggers following comments – of the (or not) variety – by the chair of the Man Booker Prize judging panel.

Thanks to a random force, about half an hour later found myself reading a column by Dorothy Parker from 1928 called “Literary Rotarians” in which she complained about the same things. 

Thus struck, I wielded my pen.

If you have read Ms Parker’s columns you might notice that I tried to evoke her style in my little article; it was a dreamy business. My favourite lines are:

“life really does rotate like a circle, like a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel; and, baby, literary criticism is no different.”

“Parker describes literary Rotarians flittering from one literary throwdown to the next.”

I also put in a few of my own opinions, as any self-respecting person would – they are, by complete coincidence, pastoral in more ways than one:

“Indeed, to be human is to be a critic and the evidence suggests nothing will hold us back from our evolutionary duty.”

“Our best critics lead us to the choicest fodder – and all the better if we have to pass through the Valley of Death, so long as we know we will arrive somewhere of quality in the end.”

I would like to link to Parker’s article in its entirety, but I can’t find it on the net and I’m not sure of the legalities of scanning it and uploading it myself. If you know either where to find it online so I can link to it or whether I can put it up myself, then, pray, tell me.

Oh, and look, Margaret Atwood and Joanne Harris RT’d this article. They are two people I respect so much. They took me to the depths of my heart, even though they’d never met me. Literature is amazing. It really means a lot to me that they think it’s interesting enough to share. There is … welling.

Read the article:

Read What Might Dorothy Parker say about book bloggers? as published by For Books’ Sake on 19 October 2012.

The Dystopians’ Guide to Positive Thinking

Here’s the article: The Dystopians’ Guide to Positive Thinking was published by For Books Sake on 11 May 2012.

Here’s why I wrote it:

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Misunderstandings in the mainstream media about the popularity of The Hunger Games and a deep sense of responsibility for clarifying the confusion is what got me writing this article.

The Hunger Games and other novels in the Nouveau Dystopian Wave follow in a long tradition of writing that includes Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. So, why weren’t they being taken more seriously?

People just couldn’t understand why young women would be reading books that imagined such a dreadful future. In their futile attempts at doing so the young readers of these books were often dismissed or patronised. The question of what draws people to read stories of negative futures is so intriguing to me that I jockied my life around enough to be able to go back to study to try and work it out in 2010. Then in early 2012 when the media around The Hunger Games was getting big I saw  misunderstanding everywhere and I knew I had to do something to set it straight.

One of the reasons for the confusion is the prevalence and popularity of black and white attitude that positive thinking was always best – anything that said differently was odd and confusing. I wanted to use this polarised position on positive thinking as the basis of the article:

“In an era that tends to idealise positive thinking it is easy to assume it is ‘good’ and other ways of thinking are ‘bad.’”

I loved the idea of flipping the norm and handing out some advice to positive thinkers from the dystopian vaults – switching the advice flow for a while. I wanted to evoke the idea of Dystopians as a grouping of people – I identify as a dystopian; I think others do too; and, I think it connects us in meaningful ways. More than anything though I wanted to locate this new era of dystopian literature within the genre and give show it was as serious and meaningful as its predecessors like Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

The response to The Dystopians’ Guide to Positive Thinking was really amazing.

Lots of people shared the article and commented on it around the interwebs. Margaret Atwood even retweeted it (fangirl flutter):

And, it was the most read article on For Books’ Sake for quite some time:

I can’t thank For Books’ Sake enough for getting such a long and in-depth article out there. Lots of people don’t have the guts, but this proves that it pays off.

Read the article:

Read The Dystopians’ Guide to Positive Thinking as published by For Books Sake on 11 May 2012.